Starting with the Right Reference Point
Resetting our Point of Reference
“You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.”
The religious leaders were tenacious in their attempt to discredit Jesus by embroiling him in controversies of their own inventions. The various religious leaders (the Sadducees, Pharisees, Scribes, and Herodians) could not agree on much. They fought, debated, and condemned one another over theological arguments and opinions. The only thing they could agree upon was their disdain for this unknown teacher from Nazareth whom the people were claiming to be the Messiah. The Sadducees came to Jesus to ask about the resurrection. The fact that they were asking the question revealed their hypocrisy, for they did not even believe in the resurrection. Because of this, they thought that they could trap Jesus with a theological paradox that, in their minds, revealed the folly of believing in the resurrection: I a man had multiple marriages, then who would be his wife in heaven, especially when the marriages were recognized as legal from the perspective of Jewish law.
In response, Jesus sides step their question and goes right to the heart of the issue. The problem with their question was not a problem of the Old Testament law regarding marriage. The problem was their perspective. First, they had an incorrect understanding of Scripture. In rejecting the possibility of the resurrection, they rejected the Old Testament law, pointing to the resurrection's reality. The fact that god used the present tense rather than the past Test to refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pointed to the reality that these individuals were still alive. If life ended at death without any hope of eternal life, then one could not speak of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the present.
But the problem goes even deeper; the real issue was their view of God. By denying the hope of the resurrection, they were affirming that God was not powerful, for he could not bring a person back from the dead. In the end, death was more powerful than God. Throughout the Old Testament, we see God’s power over death. Abraham and Sarah were “dead” in that they were beyond the ability to have children, yet God brought life through the birth of a son (see Romans 4:17-20). God’s power over death is also seen in the prophets who brought people back to life.
Christ is making the point to the Sadducees that they had the wrong reference point. They were starting with human reason rather than the revealed word of God and the infinite power of God. We often have the same problem today. We approach the questions that confront us (whether questions of science, morality, or even faith) with an earthly reference point. We define morality from our perspective. Morality is governed by what society determines to be correct. We seek to answer questions of science and the universe's origins from the reference point of our observations. Our perspective of God is based upon our perspective of who we think he should be and how we want him to be.
To live by faith is to reorient our reference point. Instead of starting with human reason and earthly perspectives, we need to start with an infinite God who has revealed himself through his word. We need to start with a God intimately beyond our understanding and perspective. His ways are not ours, and his thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). He has the power to create a universe from nothing. He is unparalleled and unequaled in his power and might. When we start with an infinite God as our reference point, then we realize that he determines what is right and wrong, and he has the power to communicate his word through the prophets so that it is without error and is absolute truth. No matter the questions we face in life, if we have the wrong reference point we will come to the wrong conclusions. The starting reference point for all of life and every question of life must be God and what he has communicated to us in his word. If you are confused and unable to make sense of your life, rearrange your point of reference. Start with God. Any other starting reference will lead to the wrong solution.